Sean Kottke's Reviews > Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
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Oct 02, 11

bookshelves: 2011, ya
Read on September 30, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is one of my favorite novels of the past decade for its magical interweaving of prose and sequential art narrative into a delightful story that invokes a few of my favorite things. Unlike Entertainment Weekly's write-up of the upcoming movie adaptation, I won't specify what those are at this point in order to preserve the wonder of discovery for fellow readers. Wonderstruck is an ambitious journey down this same stylistic path, and it's a glorious work to behold. Selznick ramps up the visual storytelling, and it's not a spoiler to reveal that the story invokes the world of silent movies in wonderful ways. Two stories unfold in the opening pages, one told in pictures, the other told in prose, and Selznick continues the grand experiment launched by D.W. Griffith's Intolerance in 1916 to tell multiple stories simultaneously in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He succeeds admirably, cross-cutting between narrative threads all the way to the end, when it's revealed how the stories of Ben, rendered deaf by a bolt of lightning in 1977, and Rose, deaf from toddlerhood and on a quest in 1927, are intertwined. If the story is ultimately less of a puzzle-box than Hugo Cabret, it has greater intimacy and more emotion. I got a serious lump in my throat near the end, and was in awe of the wonders of life explored throughout the novel. Highly recommended!
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